Jaguar Land Rover is launching a major new expansion plan at its Solihull factory worth hundreds of millions of pounds – paving the way for new models and extra jobs.
A two-year building programme has been drawn up centred on an 88,000 sq metre site, including extending a Land Rover production line to accommodate new models as the firm upgrades Range Rover and Discovery.
The biggest redevelopment of Lode Lane for years will also see new and extended production facilities, warehousing, offices, a new fire station, data centre, internal road works and an upgraded entrance.
The expansion at Lode Lane follows a major sales boom over the last 18 months, with JLR notching up pre-tax profits of £1.1 billion in the year to March 31, 2011, compared to £14.6 million the previous year.
The success of both Jaguar and Land Rover products has led to extra shift working and increased overtime – and a range of new production worker jobs across the Castle Bromwich and Solihull plants.
It is understood that expansion plans are also in the pipeline for the future at the Jaguar factory at Castle Bromwich, including a new body shop for extra models.
Des Quinn, regional officer for Unite union, said: “This is not a surprise to us – they can sell everything they can build at the moment. The new building work is a consequence of the new models they are building.
“Next year, there are going to be some additional people needed for the next models. Depending on how the new model is received, some of these people will be kept on because there will be a requirement for them.
“As the business grows, and as more models are put in place, the company will need more skilled people. We knew that these changes were coming; it is hundreds of millions of pounds that they are putting in.
“This is all about the cars being successful – if you need more shifts, you need more people. It is all good news. This is going to put them in a position where they are going to be able to build more vehicles than ever. The Land Rover brand goes from strength to strength.
“The other aspect is what happens in the supply chain – Midlands manufacturing stands to win.”
Consultations with residents living close to Lode Lane have begun, with two open evenings being held this week, and members of the plant’s management team on hand to talk through the plans and answer questions.
An application for planning permission will be submitted after the consultation exercise. If planning is granted work is expected to start in January 2012 with an anticipated completion date of 2014.
Alan Volkaerts, operations director at the Solihull complex, said: “We have always maintained a close relationship with our local community, as a source of skilled and talented people for our workforce and as good neighbours, which is why we have invited local residents to review our plans and share our thoughts before we progress further.”
The Solihull expansion plan comes a year after JLR announced it was planning to invest £5 billion, creating thousands of new UK jobs, and lifting a death sentence which had hung for over a year over the Jaguar factory at Castle Bromwich.
The success of JLR follows the vehicle maker’s highly successful fightback from the depths of the recession in early 2009, which led to redundancy programmes, a wage freeze, and the decision, later reversed, to close either Solihull or Castle Bromwich.
Solihull, the biggest manufacturing facility in the West Midlands covering a 300 acre site, currently has a 5,000-strong workforce, with the Castle Bromwich plan employing around 2,600.